Prince’s 1987 concert film Sign o’ the Times, which has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray in the United States, will bow on Showtime on September 16 at 9 pm ET. The film, which was released to reinvigorate sales of his 1987 landmark album of the same name, was largely shot at Prince’s studio-compound home Paisley Park. Initially, it was to be comprised of footage shot on Prince’s SOTT tour of Europe in the summer of 1987. However, ever the perfectionist, Prince scrapped that footage when he realized its audio and visual elements did not live up to his quality standards and did reshoots at Paisley Park.
Like 1986's Under the Cherry Moon, Sign o’ the Times was a box-office flop, although unlike the movie that preceded it, it was a critical success. Who’s gonna be mad at 85 minutes of Prince doing what he does best in his absolute prime? Much of the setlist is culled from the Sign o’ the Times album (although, infuriatingly, three of that double album’s very best songs, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” “Strange Relationship,” and “Adore” are not included). Here it is:
- “Sign o’ the Times”
- “Play in the Sunshine”
- “Little Red Corvette”/“Housequake”
- “Slow Love”
- “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”
- “Hot Thing”
- “Now’s the Time” (Charlie Parker cover by the band excluding Prince)
- Drum solo by Sheila E.
- “U Got the Look” (with Sheena Easton)
- “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
- “Forever in My Life”/“It”
- “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night”
- “The Cross”
These songs are strung together with narrative vignettes that are very... Prince-fucking-around-at-Paisley Park. Fun stuff! This is at least his second-best movie and he directed it himself (with some uncredited help from Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli). Below is a clip from “Housequake,” a fan favorite about which Prince once said, “You’ll be sitting there at the Grammys and U2 will beat you. And you say to yourself, ‘Wait a minute, I can play that kind of music too... but you will not do ‘Housequake.’” (Sign o’ the Times was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1988 Grammy Awards but lost out to U2's The Joshua Tree.)